And whether one member suffer - One member, or part of the body.
All the members suffer with it - This, we all know, is the case with the body. A pain in the foot, the hand, or the head excites deep solicitude. The interest is not confined to the part affected; but we feel that we ourselves are affected, and that our body, as a whole, demands our care. The word "suffer" here refers to disease, or sickness. It is true also that not only we feel an "interest" in the part that is affected, but that disease in any one part tends to diffuse itself through, and to affect the whole frame. If not arrested, it is conveyed by the blood through all the members until life itself is destroyed. It is not by mere interest, then, or sympathy, but it is by the natural connection and the inevitable result that a diseased member tends to affect the whole frame. There is not, indeed, in the church the same "physical" connection and "physical" effect, but the union is really not less close and important, nor is it the less certain that the conduct of one member will affect all. It is implied here also, that we should feel a deep interest in the welfare of all the members of the body of Christ. If one is tempted or afflicted, the other members of the church should feel it, and "bear one another' s burdens, and so fulfil his law." If one is poor, the others should aid him, and supply his needs; if one is persecuted and opposed for righteousness' sake, the others should sympathize with him, and make common cause with him. In all things pertaining to religion and to their mutual welfare, they should feel that they have a common cause, and regard it as a privilege to aid one another. Nor should a man regard it as any more a burden and hardship to aid a poor or afflicted brother in the church, than it should be deemed a hardship that the head, and the heart, and the hands should sympathize when any other member of the body is diseased.
Or one member be honoured - If applied to the body, this means, if one member or part be regarded and treated with special care; be deemed honorable; or be in a sound, healthy, and vigorous condition. If applied to the church, it means, if one of its members should be favored with extraordinary endowments; or be raised to a station of honor and influence above his brethren.
All the members rejoice with it - That is, in the body, all the other members partake of the benefit and honor. If one member be sound and healthy, the benefit extends to all. If the hands, the feet, the heart, the lungs, the brain be in a healthy condition, the advantage is felt by all the members, and all derive advantage from it. So in the church. If one member is favored with remarkable talent, or is raised to a station of influence, and exerts his influence in the cause of Christ, all the members of the church partake of the benefit. It is for the common good; and all should rejoice in it. This consideration should repress envy at the elevation of others, and should lead all the members of a church to rejoice when God, by his direct agency, or by the arrangements of his providence, confers extraordinary endowments, or gives opportunity for extended usefulness to others.
Other Barnes' Notes entries containing 1 Corinthians 12:26:
2 Timothy 2:20
1 Peter 3:8
1 Peter 3:8
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